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Posted on Mar 19, 2013

Five Tips to Ensure Cheap But Awesome Family Travel- Budget World Travel

Five Tips to Ensure Cheap But Awesome Family Travel- Budget World Travel

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People often assume we’re filthy rich, which we are, but not in paper money. Last month on our beloved Koh Rong Island off Cambodia on the way to the public showers a journalist asked me how rich I was. “I’m so rich, I use this [men’s shampoo] cuz it’s cheaper. I’m so rich, I wear this [shirt with three holes in it]. That’s how rich I am!”

We travel cheaply. It’s simple. That is the only way our initial one-year $50,000 travel budget stretched into year two. That’s the only way we could start figuring out, slowly, how to make money online and on the road while spending so little. By spending little (and meditating tons), we’ve significantly reduced that overbearing stress over money and not having enough, and, just for you dears, we’ve come up with a five-point blueprint how to ensure cheap, but awesome family travel.  Enjoy!

 Five Tips to Ensure Cheap But Awesome Family Travel

1- Make Your Own Meals

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Home Cookin at the Back Home Hostel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

As often as possible we make our own food. We find that when we eat others’ food, we usually get way too much oil, salt, sugar, msg’s, and fats. The oily food is too oily, the “little bit spicy” is a lot a bit spicy, and the quantities are different even if you order the same meal at the same restaurant the day after.  Making our own food saves our time, money, and health. In addition, when we buy our own groceries, we end up eating way more fruits and vegetables, which reminds me, another mini-tip:

Always pack in your day bag water, fresh fruits and veggies for snacks. That way you’re not forced to buy food for starving kids, and you don’t spend unwarranted high prices on water on the go. Having preventative snacks, and often picnic lunches, lets you control how much money you choose to spend on food when you’re out and about.

Of course, we’ll taste a bit of everything delightful each country has to offer, and if it’s super cheap, like in Cambodia, we’ll typically eat out once a day. We’re traveling the world and clearly want to taste it all, but not on account of burning through our wallets.. So, we do on a small scale and still, as a rule, we’ll eat in.

 2- Just Flow and Let The Universe Do Her Magic

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We used to freak out when we’d look online and see super expensive hostel prices. And then, we discovered that we can find locally-owned hostels for a fraction of the cheapest online price. For example, before arriving to Kampot, Cambodia, we got (ok, I got) super worked up over the $40+ a night prices we saw online. When we arrived, Mr. Tuk Tuk Driver with the white streak in his hair took us a lovely little spot on the Mekong River with two queen-sized beds, and private bath for $6 a night. Sweet.

Likewise, we arrived to Natrang, Vietnam after 10pm, worried about the costs and where we’d put our tired kids to sleep at that late hour, miracle of miracles, the bus drops us off right in front of My Hoa Hotel: three beds, private bath, super nice room, $10 a night, including breakfast. I know!

So, don’t go all crazy thinking your e-planning is getting you the best deals. Most of the time, but seriously, most of the time, we’ve found half the price with a little bit of sweat equity.

3-  Do The Work In Advance

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“But you just said the opposite. ”

Yeah, and you’re point is….  I can. It’s my blog, I can cry if I want to. I push ‘publish’ and so I can contradict myself.

That being said, most people often spend much time at home searching for cheap holidays. Kobi always, always, always researches each place we’re about to arrive at, compares cheap transportation options, and finds out all he can to ensure we enjoy the best that area has to offer and saves us the most he can on the way.

We used to exclusively arrive at the next location and start working our magic on the spot. Turns out, though economical 95.987% of the time, we can’t do that all over the world.

In Cambodia, we backtracked to Koh Rong Islands to work with our ever-so-cool-and-amazing Koh Rong Dive Center and got royally screwed for not making reservations in advance. So now we know that if it’s a place with limited accommodations (which is very rare) , we’ll book something, anything for just that first night.

Today, in Malaysia and other more developed tourists locations, we’re able to search in advance, send out some emails to accommodations that may like to work with us, and take great steps to ensure a cheap stay in advance. Could not happen, and wouldn’t want it to happen that I spend my time knocking door to door in a big city. No, here, online definitely helps.

So, just to be sure I haven’t confused you, listen up:

I mean number two: just flow and let the Universe do her magic and I mean number three: do the work in advance. Wing it, enjoy it, arrive and let the wind, the cute guy three seats up, and inspiration guide you to your next location. At the same time, know where you’re going, what to look out for, and be aware that if it’s super limited in accommodations or super-touristy and they use emails, a bit of work up-front may prevent needless woah and give you some cool perks.

Both have their respectable places.

4-  Don’t  Over-Indulge When You Splurge

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Yes, of course, we’ve splurged and often. You can’t travel the world constantly living under the pressures of “can’t.” We spent $20 on frozen yogurt in Yogurt Space in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and $43 on Subway in Kuala Lumpur,  Malaysia. And you know what’ s so funny?

Each time we allow ourselves to go crazy, our eyes end up getting much more than our stomachs can handle. In both Yogurt Space and Subway, we ended up stuffing our faces until our stomachs ached, and (get this!) we threw at least a third of it away. No, none of my kids could finish the 12 inch sub, which got soggy even though we tried to save it for the next day. And no, none of us could get down that much icy sugar with all the toppings in one sitting.

So, find what you can do to spoil yourself from time to time, but don’t go crazy when you do. We usually enjoy ourselves on a less extravagant scale and truly find joy in the simpler things, simpler joys, and a longer world adventure.

5. Learn From Those Before You (Shameless Plug)

There is nothing new under the sun. There are tons of people just a few short steps ahead of you who have done what you are dreaming of doing. Learn from them, be reminded of what you are doing though it’s not the popular choice and it’s so damn hard at times. Be inspired who think like you, who understand that your money is there not to show off your social status, but to allow you to make your dreams come true. We wrote this little e-book and it’s changed the lives of hundreds.

In addition, on the “Money” tab on this blog there are tons of amazing articles all full of ideas on how to help you save before you leave, and during your travels. We also include lots of videos about how we save money as we travel on our YouTube Channel. So, don’t miss a beat, or a tip, or a laugh, or a cry and subscribe to our blog and YouTube, buy the book, and read these posts. After all that, you. will. be. invincible.

And some great ones about money as a mindset!

 In Conclusion

If we figured out how to save tons, and spend little before we left and while traveling, you can do. We do travel cheaply. We actually travel more cheaply than any other traveling family, and most traveling singles, we know. And we’re okay with that.

Sure, sometimes the kids don’t like that. Sure, sometimes we want to buy, buy, buy, spend, spend, and spend. Sure, sometimes it makes us feel a bit uncomfortable when we hang out together and compared to their lavishness, we feel sheepishly poor. But, everyone has their own income levels, their own budgets, their own priorities, and for us, as a family, we understand that each choice we make is either splurge and potentially shorten the trip or think economically and add on another month or two.

We’ll have fun, spoil ourselves from time and time, and travel forever.

Any thoughts? Any cool tips to save money on family travel? Think we’ve gone too far in the saving money department? Think it’s a wobbly balancing act and that we’ve got it down pretty good? Did you know that you guys are actually, really helping us keep traveling. A remarkable new flood of YouTube subscribers have joined us, more and more are following our rss feed. Twitter,  and in Facebook, and there is a steady stream of comments on our blog. These things directly fund our adventures and we can’t thank you enough for sharing our posts, reminding your friends to like us, for watching, and for leaving comments. You are changing our world and enabling us to keep traveling. Thank you friend.

 

Comments

comments

9 Comments

  1. Excellent article. My boyfriend and I are starting our life of independent travel in Kuala Lumpur this June and are also looking forward to beginning and travelling with our family on the road. Great tips and you kept me interested.

    Where did you stay in KUL? And, was it pure serendipity when finding cheap accommodations on the fly?

    Enjoy your travels! Julie

    • Julie. I’m so happy for you guys. How did you find us dear. I wouldn’t start in Malaysia if you guys are hoping for this to be a way of life. KL is awesome and we are loving it, but there are tons of cheaper countries in SE Asia that make more sense as a backpacker. I know, I know, I know that outside of KL is cheaper and don’t get me wrong, we adore Malaysia. But, as a general rule, we avoid the more expensive countries and stick to the cheaper ones. That helps stretch your money a lot too. We love so many great places here. Our favorite budget place is BAck Home Hostel in KL. Look up their website. sooo cool. Oh, I just their video up as my video of the week. You can see in on the sidebar way up ton. Yes, usually we walk the streets, well Kobi does (I stay with the kids) and he finds us something cheap. And if he can’t strike a great deal on the spot, we move in, and then, a day or so later start asking around or sending emails (if they use them- depending how developed the country is). We typically negotiate long-term stays and offer to pay at least half in advance. That way, we get great deals all over the globe. How did you find us Julie? Any more questions, ask away. Those end up being the best posts by far. Good luck to you guys. Can’t wait to hear of your adventures. Gabi

  2. Thanks for sharing this! We constantly get asked “How are you affording this??” and had to do our own post on the subject! Travel really does not have to break the bank as you have so nicely pointed out 🙂

    • thank you jenni. yes, not only does it not have to break the bank, but we find traveling the world costs us usually 1/5 of what it cost us to live back home. seriously, most months our total expenses, usually around $1200 for the passed ten months, cost less than all of our utilities, phones, taxes and extras back home. That’s without groceries, house payments, school costs, car repairs and gas…. i seriously, jenni, can’t afford to go home. funny, no.

  3. All of the above! Yep, that’s pretty much what we did/do/will be doing. I’ve never been big on cooking for ourselves but there have been a few times we’ve just had mangoes for lunch or bread and a tin of tuna, peanut butter straight from the jar even! Wonder how the kids will adapt to that? We always book somewhere for the first few nights, just to make life easier, then we wing it. You never see the good prices online. Cheapest I’ve found in KL is $40/ night, not cheap! But the flights were so cheap it had to be our starting place. I’ve just been looking at Pokhara, Nepal, cheap as chips! May still be able to get $5/night and it’s lovely there, I feel a long stay coming on. See you in the world!

    • can’t wait to see you in the world alyson. love it how we do things so much the same. i love that. yeah, $40 airbnb you got is good. do you get the entire apartment or just a room? we think if you’re off-season you may be able to stay at the backhome hostel in KL for a similar price. tuna and sliced bread, mango, peanut butter- yes, welcome to dinner kids. dig in! flight was cheap for us too but living here is not so cheap. i agree. the long term arrangements at $5 a night would totally be in those countries where it’s ‘cheap as chips’. when do you guys leave again dear? i can’t wait! mwah. i’ve missed you. gabi. oh, you will immensely enjoy this dear: http://gabiklaf.com/the-homeless-guy-and-i-got-lost-50-days-late-2/

  4. You are an amazing woman, i admire your strength and restraint. Great article, beautiful.

    • thank you darling erin. i admire you too. thank you.

  5. be proud of being the cheapest family out there! we are set to do the same thing. i’m pretty sure our budget is less then a shoestring. So we can just hope for the best, and pray we find a place to stay and cheap enough food to feed us while we are gone. That’s pretty much all we are looking for 🙂